October 16, 2000
UFO conference proves big draw
by Chuck Tobin
Overwhelming attendance at a Yukon UFO conference held over the weekend proves the growing interest in unidentified flying objects, says the event's main organizer.
"I think there has been a lot of sightings up in the Yukon, and there was a great line-up of speakers," Martin Jasek said in a post-conference interview this morning.
While the $25,000-budget was based on an audience of 150, early last week, Jasek was estimating 120.
When the conference opened Saturday at 1 p.m., it was sitting room only. By the time the agenda closed near 11:00 that night, 304 people had paid their $10 to hear eyewitness accounts and stories of government conspiracies to dispel UFO believers.
It was a conference designed to encourage more open discussion of UFO sightings, to reduce the ridicule of those who report seeing something unexplainable by modern technology.
To that end, said Jasek, it was a success, from the opening words of Yukon NDP MP Louise Hardy to the $17,000 the Yukon government contributed through its millennium projects fund.
"I was impressed by how serious Martin was, the fact that he has a very scientific background and he wanted to bring the study of unidentified flying objects to the forefront," Hardy said in her opening remarks.
"I think Martin's drive and curiosity is so important because it is about what it is around us, not just over our own planet, because there is a lot around us."
In the hallways during the breaks, there was a story here and a story there from audience members who didn't speak but were there in search of commonality.
"I just wanted to hear how similar other experiences were to mine," said Tracie Harris, who witnessed a flying saucer in 1958 while attending the University of Alberta. "At that time, you didn't talk about it. Everybody would have thought you were a kook."
Internationally-renowned UFO researcher and author Stan Friedman, told the audience it's time to shed the neurosis about unidentified flying objects. Humankind will be spending a lot of time in space this coming century, and it should learn it's not the biggest kid in the neighbourhood when it comes to space travel.
The man who's led the attack on the U.S. government for its apparent cover-up of the flying saucers that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 wasn't shy about calling the U.S. airforce a liar, and backing it up with what he maintained was solid proof. He pointed to several cases of what he called exercises in disinformation by the U.S. government.
The biggest naysayers, Friedman told the audience, are often ignorant of the facts, have not done the level of research required to substantiate their dismissals of UFOs or purposely mislead their listeners.
There is just too much overwhelming evidence to dismiss UFOs as real, says the nuclear physicist who worked in private industry in the 1960s on the development of an advanced nuclear rocket for the U.S. airforce.
Since 1967, Friedman has travelled around the world presenting his lecture program, Flying Saucers are Real.
The National UFO reporting centre in Seattle receives 5,000 calls a year, Peter Davenport, the centre's director, told the packed house.
"The question is not are all UFOs alien spacecraft; the question is are any? And the answer is yes," said Friedmen.
Alberta psychologist Helen Neufeld, who has over 30 years' experience in the field of hypnosis, has worked with individuals - she doesn't like to use the word abductee - who maintain they experienced encounters with alien life forms.
"I have no doubt whatsoever about the fact that there are other intelligent beings in other universes, and, in fact, many of them are coming here," she said.
She said there are ancient pictographs around the world that depict alien life forms in spacemen-like shapes, as far back as 15,000 years ago.
"They are simply found everywhere," she said.
Neufeld said not even the United States had aircraft as far back as the 1950s that could turn instantly at right angles, while travelling very, very fast, at supersonic speeds.
Jasek told the audience that 293 UFO sightings in the Yukon are on record, of which 147 have been documented and 146 need more follow-up.
Thirty-eight per cent of the sightings had two witnesses and 11 per cent of the sightings were witnessed by five people or more.
The spike in local UFO sightings that occurred here in 1975-77 corresponded with an increase in reports around the world, said Jasek.
And since 1996, sightings recorded annually have been on the increase, with a peak of 25 in 1997 and 13 or 14 so far this year, one as recently as last month.
Yukon reports of unidentified flying objects referred to by Jasek date back as far as the 1930s, with a sightings reported from Hunker Creek in the Dawson area.
The conference organizer told of a two Lake Laberge residents who witnessed a triangular UFO; four boys who encountered a UFO while walking along a road in Wolf Creek; a mother and a car-full of children who watched an unidentified object hover over a Porter Creek home; the case of two boys on a snowmobiles whose encounter was so close, they could feel the heat from the UFO; the case of an ambulance en route to Whitehorse with a patient from Haines Junction that was followed by unidentified object, and the attendants who called the RCMP to report their concern; a prospector who tells of a red-shaped disc over Montana Mountain near Carcross; and the list goes on.
Of the two eyewitness accounts given by Yukoners, one involved a recreational therapist who recently moved from the territory, but tells of two encounters.
Colette Opper told the audience that one incident was experienced by she and her older daughter along Hamilton Boulevard. Recent hypnotism, she and the renowned hypnotist Neufeld told the audience, has given her cause to believe she was taken aboard or at least detained in some fashion by the UFOs.
Jasek detailed the multi-witness, Dec. 11, 1996 sighting of what's being described as a giant UFO seen by 31 Yukoners, from Fox Lake, through Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and Mayo.
Motorists who saw the UFO at or around 8 p.m. as they were in the Fox Lake area describe the UFO as being up to a kilometre or two wide, Jasek said. Some five or six motorists stopped in at the Braeburn Lodge, one after the other, to relay their experience to the owner, and each drew a picture.
They told of rows of lights, and a couple of the motorists recalled a search lights beaming down from the object.
It was there, said Jasek, that the case opened up.
There were eyewitness accounts from Carmacks to Pelly to Mayo of a humongous UFO, so large that it blacked out the stars as it passed overhead.
One youth in Pelly who was crossing the Pelly River Bridge hit the bridge deck out of fear as the object passed by, and his grandmother tells of how unnerved the youth was when he recounted his experience to her.
Don Trudeau, a Pelly Crossing resident who is the assistant director of self-government for the Selkirk First Nation, was out on his trapline.
"My first thought, it was a plane coming down, a 747 or something," Trudeau told the audience. "I turned my focus a bit more and at that point, I knew it was not a plane. It was a UFO."
Trudeau said as he looked toward the object, his flashlight pointed directly toward it and instantly, the craft moved toward him at unbelievable speed, to within 250 or 275 metres.
"At that point, I could not see the whole thing. I had to turn my head to take it all in."
In the middle of the UFO, said Trudeau, there were about 100 lights stretching across its girth, measuring two metres in height and six to nine metres in width.
About 50 metres higher up on the object, there was a row of seven much larger lights spreading horizontally across the object.
"Also, out the back there was two lights that were pointing down," he said, adding there was a search-type light pointing out the front.
"As all this was happening, it is still moving slowly, slowly to my right."
Trudeau told the audience he took four steps, briefly taking his eyes off the object to position himself in a better spot to follow it as it moved.
By time he'd take the four steps, it was gone.
"Immediately after, I thought, 'Jesus, what just happened?' There was no noise from this thing, there was no wind.
"Something this big, could move, move along as slowly, as quietly, and defy gravity as I know it?... It was a real eye-opener for me."
The weekend's keynote speakers and local organizers of the event were meeting today in a workshop to develop means of promoting public reporting, and reducing the ridicule factor further.
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